Dr Luke Kelly
Luke is a Senior Lecturer in Ecology in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at the University of Melbourne. He enjoys contributing solutions to global conservation problems. His research interests are in ecology and evolution, biodiversity conservation and environmental decision making. Much of his work is focused on understanding animal and plant responses to fire, landscape modification and climate change. This includes doing a mix of field experiments, ecological modelling and scenario analysis.
Dr Michelle Gibson
Michelle is a Research Fellow in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences. Originally from California, she has worked in Mediterranean ecosystems in the southwest U.S.A. and South Africa’s Cape region conducting research on invasive plants, pollination, and human disturbances on bird communities. Her work in Australia has involved desert bird ecology and measuring effectiveness of restoration actions for Australian woodland birds. She is interested in understanding ecological disturbances and how to conserve and manage resilient ecosystems into the future. Her current research examines the effects of bushfires and planned burning on ecosystem resilience with a focus on avifauna monitoring across diverse ecosystems in Victoria. This project includes working closely with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.
Julianna is a PhD student in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences. She comes from Brazil, where she studied the ecology and conservation of Neotropical mammals, including the population dynamics and diet of wild cats and several invasive species. She started her PhD in 2019 and has been investigating movement ecology, genetic diversity and population dynamics of small mammals in fire-prone landscapes in southern Australia.
Dr Katharine Senior
Kate is a Research Fellow in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences. She is researching how plants in different ecosystems respond to bushfires and planned burning, as part of a large-scale ecosystem resilience monitoring program funded by the Victorian Government. She completed her PhD as part of the Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project, with a focus on using field experiments and models to understanding the impacts of fire on mammals and reptiles in the Murray Mallee region of southern Australia. She aims to conduct applied research informs environmental management and works closely with land managers to achieve this.
Eliza is a PhD candidate in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences. Her research explores alternative management options to increase the number and diversity of insectivorous birds within forestry plantations and mixed-use landscapes. In partnership with PF Olsen and BirdLife Australia, Eliza is developing field experiments to investigate: the benefits of bird diversity in providing pest control and the biodiversity values of commercial forestry plantations. Eliza is also passionate about science communication; you can find her on Twitter (@ElizaKThompson) and Instagram (@elizathompson98).
Ella Plumanns Pouton
Ella is a PhD candidate investigating the impacts of fire regimes, climate, and other environmental drivers on plant diversity in temperate heathlands. She is using a combination of field work, glasshouse studies and modelling to disentangle the effects of these drivers and their interactions. Ella is also interested in environmental governance and social equity. She is passionate about the connection of research to practice, particularly in the continued improvement of environmental policy and programs.
Amanda Lo Cascio
Amanda is PhD candidate in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences. Her research focuses on the distribution and ecology of microbats in stringy-bark woodlands of Victoria. Amanda is using a combination of field surveys and genomic techniques to explore the responses of microbats to landscape connectivity, fire regimes and other environmental gradients.
Jeremy is a PhD student in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences. He is proud of his heritage with the Darug people of the Sydney region and currently lives on Wurundjeri Country. Started in 2020, his PhD focuses on how mammals respond to alternative silvicultural systems in the Central Highlands of Victoria. The aim of Jeremy’s work is to promote biodiversity through forest management activities.
RESEARCH ASSOCIATES AND RECENT GRADUATES
Dr Kate Giljohann
Kate was a Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne from 2017-2022 – and now works at CSIRO Land and Water. She is particularly interested in plants, conservation and the ecology of disturbances. Her research encompasses population, community and landscape-level analyses, with a focus on assisting environmental management. In collaboration with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Kate developed a suite of models to enhance the evaluation of alternative fire management strategies for biodiversity.
Dr Fred Rainsford
Fred is a Research Fellow at La Trobe University, Research Centre for Future Landscapes, and a member of the Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project (a collaboration between University of Melbourne and La Trobe University). He is particularly interested in the ecology and conservation of birds. He recently completed his PhD on how fire shapes bird and plant communities in a range of fire-prone ecosystems. His current research focuses on the drivers of bird diversity in agricultural landscapes and woodland ecosystems. This work aims to link farm-scale bird diversity with on-farm natural capital and to develop tools that will lead to more sustainable agricultural practices.
Lily completed her Master of Science (Ecosystem Science) within the School of Ecosystem and Forest Science in 2020 – and his since taken up a PhD in the School. Her research interest is in biodiversity conservation, with a focus on mammal species. In her Masters research Lily investigated how landscape properties shape native small mammal distributions in western Victoria. Her project focused on fire and vegetation properties and Lily hopes to aid biodiversity conservation by better understanding the ecology of common and threatened species.
Isaac completed his Masters of Philosophy (Science) in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences in 2021. He now works in ecosystem restoration in California, USA. Isaac studied how plant traits, such as bark, influence mortality and survival during and after fire. He used plant traits to predict vegetation response to fire and to understand how trees survive in semi-arid landscapes.